Sometimes a cell phone is not what it seems. Take, for example, the Samsung SGH-A637. Though you may think that its minimalist candy bar design hides a low-end feature set, inside you'll find a lot more. As a 3G handset, the SGH-A637 offers all the usual high-end AT&T offerings including GPS, AT&T Mobile Music, and Cellular Video. You'll also find a 1.3-megapixel camera, stereo Bluetooth, and GPS. While that's a decent assortment, and the phone performed admirably in most regards, we had issues with the design. Minimalism is one thing, but cheap is quite another. The A637 is $49 with service.
In a world dominated by flip and slider phones, there's always room for a candy bar handset. But as straightforward and easy to use as they may be, candy bar phones need to be sturdy to protect the exposed display and controls. Unfortunately, the Samsung SGH-A637 doesn't make that cut. Its plastic feels quite flimsy and the phone had a slippery hold in the hand. It's fine for people who always keep the phone in a bag or glove compartment, but we doubt it will be rugged enough for most. On the upside, the SGH-A637 is relatively compact (4.41 inches tall by 1.77 inches wide by 0.81 inch thick; 3.24 ounces) and its rounded edges and white hue are a bit soothing. But as we said, we don't think this handset will withstand the test of time.
The display measures 1.8 inches and supports 262,000 colors. It's bright and vibrant with sharp colors, graphics, and text. You can change the backlighting time; the brightness; and the dialing font size, type, and color. The menu interface offers grid and list styles. Both choices are easy to use and intuitive, though the text might be too small for some users.
We like the SGH-A637's circular navigation toggle. Both it and the central OK button are raised above of the surface of the phone, which makes it tactile and easy to grasp. What's more, the blue ring surrounding the toggle makes it easily visible. You can set the toggle to act as a shortcut to user-defined shortcuts. Unfortunately, we weren't so crazy about the surrounding navigation control. Though the two soft keys, clear button, and the Talk and End/power controls are relatively spacious, they're almost flush. The same goes for the navigation keypad buttons. They have a spacious arrangement as well, but they're flat and a bit slippery.
The SGH-A637's volume rocker sits on the right spine above the camera shutter. The rocker is easy to find when on a call and the shutter is outlined in blue. On the left spine, you'll find the charger port/headset jack. Please note that it is a combined jack that uses the same Samsung proprietary connection for both. The camera lens sits in the upper-left corner of the SGH-A637's back side. There's also a memory card on the left spine but you must remove the battery cover to access it.
The SGH-A637 has a large 1,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for six phone numbers, an e-mail address, an instant-messaging handle, and notes. You can assign callers to groups, give them a photo, and one of 10 polyphonic ringtones. Other essentials include: a vibrate mode, text, and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a task list, a notepad, a calculator, a tip calculator, a currency and unit converter, a world clock, a timer, and a stopwatch.
You'll also find instant messaging, a speakerphone, stereo Bluetooth, Web-based POP3 e-mail, support for AT&T's Video Share service and Navigator. Media features include the standard offerings for an AT&T 3G phone. The SGH-A637 has Cellular Video, which offers an assortment of streaming video programming, and AT&T Mobile Music, which lets you download music tracks for use on the handset's digital music player. There's also a solid selection of music-related features, such as support for XM Radio Mobile, music videos, a Music ID application, a Billboard Mobile channel, and a community section with access to fan sites and downloads.